Monthly Archives: August 2010

Getting My Head Around It

I’ve got a race this weekend.

Well, okay, not a race. A FatAss. An event.

An event which encompasses the entire 71.1 miles of the Massanutten Trail.

Sigh. I’m really in over my head. Or at least that’s the why I feel. The more I read, the more frightened I become. (Then Kim, stop reading!!!!)

Tonight I went over the map, to refresh some of the names. Signal Knob. Veach Gap. Camp Roosevelt. Lots of labels with “Mountain” on them.

Tomorrow I am off work. I need to pack my clothes for the run; my single drop bag I am allowed. I need to look over the map some more. I need to laminate the MMT Trail description (which is backwards to the direction we’ll be running, I guess that will keep me alert!)

I need to get up around 3am on Friday to meet Slim over at New Stanton, PA, for the rest of the trip south. I’ve agreed to a orientation run/hike at Bird Knob, since I won’t get ‘enough’ of the MMT Trail on Saturday and Sunday.

I’m seriously out of my league with this run/event.

But, as I contemplate what I just typed, how do I get any better? I like to be familiar with a trail. How do I get familiar with a trail? I gotta get out on it.

I’ll be the slowest runner out there. I know that. That doesn’t bother me, so much, as the much more talented runners bound up the trail, out of sight, within the first 1/2 mile of trail.

But I really hate to tie people up. To make folks wait for me. That’s my biggest issue with being the slowest runner out there. I hate that people, the RD, the timer, the last AS workers, have to wait until I come by.

So I am hoping the folks of VHTC will tell me when I need to stop. I don’t want them to be waiting on one poor slow runner who has fallen way behind the curve.

I also am not planning on quitting.

Aid Station Report Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness

The 3rd annual Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 Mile Race starts at 9 pm at Camp Pioneer, just outside Beverly, West Virginia. The race is a ‘lollipop stick’ meaning you go out 12 miles, then run a big loop, then run back the same 12 miles.

This being the case, Aid Station 2/7 is right at the start of the loop. And the trail!!! The first 12 miles of the race is road, mostly dirt/gravel…and mostly up. And up. It’s a 12 mile climb up Cheat Mountain.

I was AS Captain along with fellow WVMTR member Mike. We also had Lori D, a newer runner and new trail lover, and Lora, a veteran AS worker (Liberty grad/Horton race worker). Lora had brought along 3 very amusing college students who were using the AS experience as their community service hours. Hey, nothing like build a campfire, sleeping in a car, and lying to people (” you look great, it’s all downhill….” etc) for your community service hours! We also had the “sweeps” working our AS until their sweep job began. We got along great with the sweeps when I mentioned beer for the AS workers…

Most runners were in a good mood and relieved to be at the start of their trail running. Some didn’t know what a gnarly trail they were embarking on (see previous post for photos.) One woman was complaining vociferously..not a good sign 12 miles into your race…but most were good to go.
We had runners from around 1030 pm to midnight. We still had a few folks unaccounted for. Lora hopped in her vehicle and drove back to the last AS, and came back. Nope, everyone was through. Then the sweeps work began, and they left us. Their job is to stay behind the last runner, so no one is left out on the trail. They were also picking up the trail markers from the race.

I went and got in my sleeping bag in the tent I had set up. I don’t think I actually slept, just relaxed and listened to the college kids playing a word game. It seemed like about 20 minutes had gone by and a vehicle pulls up horn blowing. It’s Adam Casseday, Race Director, letting us know the first runner, Jeremy Ramsay, will be blowing through our AS anytime.

Sure enough, Jeremy comes through just about two minutes later. About ten minutes after him, the other front men appear. Now the folks are trickling through, usually in pairs. I turn my chair so I can see the runners appear around the corner.

Due to the great diligence of our college workers, we have a roaring fire all night. I was snug in my coat and chair. It seemed like every time I turned off my head and got more comfortable in my chair to nap, another runner would appear!

Everyone seemed in good spirits too. We even commented on a few folks that had been a little ill on their first trip through our AS were feeling much better. One group of three were in particular loud spirits-a pacer herding her two very young runners through. The young guys were tired and just saying gibberish (pretty common this late in a race). The female with them still looked fresh. At the finish line, I found out this was their first 50 miler, their longest run.

Before long, the sun came up, and the sleepiness and fatigue fell away on cue. We started to get things cleaned up and packed away. Looking at our list of runners, we had most checked off. However, without any form of communication working, we had no way of knowing if these runners were still in the race or had dropped somewhere.

The sweeps came through, and we knew we were released! As we descended off the mountain, the fog came up and it was colder down in the valley. We passed all the remaining runners on the dirt road, and I tried to yell at each one and give them a thumbs up as we passed.

I got the vehicle unloaded of the AS stuff and hung out for a little while, then decided to drive home before it got too late. I made it about 1.5 hours before I stopped for a little power nap. More caffeinated beverages and a phone call got me the rest of the way home. I then took another 2 hour nap before I tackled unpacking from the trip.

It was much fun working the Aid Station. I encourage you, if you’ve never been on that side of the table, to put some hours in. Runners are very appreciative of having some food, beverage, and encouragement out in the middle of the forest-and in the case of CMMM-the middle of the night!!!

Pics of Yocum Trail-Cheat Mountain

Doesn’t this trail look great? Nice scenery, or what? Too bad the runners didn’t see any of it…..

Since the race started at 9 pm, this was all dark and outside their small globe of light which was their world.

Since I was just volunteering, I went for a 2 mile out and back on the Yocum Trail, which is the first trail the runners encounter, after their 12 mile climb on a dirt road up Cheat Mountain.

It’s a gnarly trail. Rocky and rooty. Twists and turns. Nice soft spongy footing. Lots of wet parts and stream crossings. As I ran this, I remembered how difficult it was at night, only seeing a few feet ahead. I was glad I was only volunteering!

Aid Station Report to come soon. I’ve had about 1 hour sleep in the last 36 hours. Time for dinner now!

I’m Back!

I’ve been in *internet hell* for the last ten days. We exceeded our “allotment” of XX bytes or whatever from our satellite ISP. So when this happens, they impose a rolling 30 day blackout. Whatever that means. What it has meant is, we’ve been on a ‘dialup’ speed. Which has meant I’ve been able to read emails first thing in the morning. The dialup internet would not even connect for me in the evening. Frustrating.

So as a quick catchup:

I’m working an Aid Station at the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 mile Run, in Beverly, West Virginia, this Friday night. Friday night? Yes, Friday night! Race starts at 9 PM. This is an all night run around Cheat Mountain. The race course is a lollipop, so runners will come through my AS twice, first around 10-1130 pm, then 4-7 am (ish). I plan on serving hot homemade (vegan friendly) potato soup. With the weather temps going to be in the fifties, I think the runners will appreciate this!

The Ring: This is a FA Event from the Virginia Happy Trails Club. 70 miles of the Massanutten Trail. Harder or easier than the MMT 100? God, I hope not! As Slim says, I am running the Ring as some homework for MMT 2011. And if the Ring wasn’t enough, Jim Harris will do some climbing over on Birds Knob on Friday, before the Ring starts on Saturday. Goals for the Ring: 1) Not to die. 2) Finish. Simple enough!

After the Ring, it will depend on how I feel and domestic guilt whether I run the Groundhog 50K (my favorite 50K) the next weekend.

The next weekend after that is the YUT-C!!!!! That I am registered and cleared to run.
Then, the next weekend, the Akron Marathon. I am planning on breaking 5 hours in this race.

Then, it should be a taper down to the fall goal race, the West Virginia Trilogy!

Hard Core Club Monday!

Okay, Hard Core Club starts Today!

Welcome to The Hard CORE Club and thirteen weeks of potential cursing. The Beginning Core Workout is designed for runners, but anyone can reap the benefits.

Jamoosh has started this 13 Core Challenge. I will be beginning today, August 16. Probably after work. I plan on coming back and editing this post to let you know how I did!

Later the same day….two thoughts. One, I despise my internet connection. I’ve had about ten minutes of web connection in 24 hours. Yeah, satellite internet rocks!

Two-while the connection is still here-I did complete the first day of the Hardcore Workout. It was good, and I can tell I have *room for improvement* on everything!

24 (or 25) Miles at Mohican

I got to the Covered Bridge a little find Terri Lemke and Mark Lemke there. Where were my friends from WV, that were up here, camping at Mohican? We decided they either overslept or were eating pancakes at Mellor’s and took off on the Purple Loop without them.

Right on the Lyons Falls trail, as you start out, are some real muddy spots. The Mohican Trail Club has built these nice little wooden crosswalks across the areas. Terri and I carefully avoided them and walked in the mud. With the humidity, and recent rain, the boards looked really slick!

The loop to the Lodge was fine. We actually ran into another runner, who we kind of recognized (he had a “Forget the PR shirt on) but didn’t know his name. We rehydrated and started on the orange loop.

The orange loop, starting out of the Covered Bridge, has some cursed climbs. This is the reason I wanted to run the orange loop. I reminded myself of this as we climbed. Terri and I chatted and chatted, and before we knew it, we were at the intersection of the “old orange loop”-and most of the hills were completed.

As we headed toward Hickory Ridge AS, there was still fog swirling around us at 10 or 11 am! Now that’s humidity!!

We picked up Mark Lemke at Hickory Ridge, who ran the rest of the loop with us. I was beginning to get pretty tired on the downhill here; the heat and humidity was doing a number.

We got water at the Camp Office, at the campground, and started on the North Rim Trail, which is “only” one mile long, but with three short but steep climbs. These were tolerated, and we then hit the last section before the campground.

Mark and Terri got ahead of me, but slowed up and we hit the campground together. We got to witness some f-bombs with some sort of family altercation going on (at a camp site, not Terri and Mark!), and then the Covered Bridge FINALLY came into view!

Mark and Terri ran across the Covered Bridge, where our vehicles were parked, and I went directly into the Clear Fork River. While the water wasn’t that cold, it was a bit refreshing when I sat down in the river.

When I posted and decided on what loops I wanted to run, I really wasn’t thinking about mileage. I was more thinking about where water could be had on this route. So, somewhere during the run, when Terri mentioned we’d be doing 24 or 25 miles, I was kind of startled, I didn’t remember (or think about) the orange loop plus the North Rim Trail plus the Gorge Trail through the campground!

So another good week of mileage. 59 miles last week, and 51 miles this week!


The 11 mile around the block got started later, around 8 am. Hot and muggy, as all runs have been lately.

This is the climb to the highest point on my run. The running gods smiled on me today, and provided a light breeze when I got up on the ridgeline. Despite it being very hot, I do remember this same run, in February, with a wind. I was worried about hypothermia and getting my arms frozen, due to lack of a windbreaker!

On top of the ridge, I spotted this pasture buster as he climbed through the fence! Busted!!!

View from top of the ridge.
Despite the heat, my run was going quite well. I was hitting the downhills much more quickly (and it is a hily route)

and I seemed to be running a bit of the smaller inclines more than usual. I still wasn’t putting that much additional effort into the run. Perhaps a few more pounds off the body does improve speed.

I took a quick stop into Peoli Cemetery to see if anyone had left baseballs at the Cy Young grave.

No, not this week.

As I got to around mile 9, I did see that my time for this run was improving. And if I could remember, I usually finish up this loop in around 2.30. So I made a conscious effort to hurry. Not the easiest thing to do, as I finish up the run on the state route, with no berm, and several very good blind spots. Twice I had to jump into the high weeds due to 2 vehicles on the road at the same time.

But I still PB’d the run! (Personal best!) 2.20.43, which is a 9.03 minute improvement! I shaved around 40 seconds or so off each mile! Well done!

Check your equipment before you head out. I kept feeling a funny spot on the bottom of my foot. I thought perhaps the sock had gotten folded over. When I stopped for water, I took my shoe off to investigate:

Argh! I didn’t even notice, putting the socks on! Check your equipment, people, before you head out!!